Palace Malice Making Season Debut in $250,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2)
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Palace Malice is set to make his 4-year-old debut in the one-mile $250,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) on March 8, trainer Todd Pletcher said today.
Owned by Dogwood Stable, Palace Malice has been working steadily for his first race since finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
In his only previous start at Gulfstream Park, Palace Malice was second in a seven-furlong entry-level allowance last January to kick off his 3-year-old campaign.
“He’s been training really well and everything’s gone smoothly so far,” Pletcher said. “I felt like this is a good place to get him started again.”
Second in last year’s Blue Grass (G1), Palace Malice finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby (G1) before being freshened prior to the 1 ½-mile Belmont, where he defeated Preakness (G1) winner Oxbow by 3 ¼ lengths with Derby winner Orb checking in third.
From there, Palace Malice won the Jim Dandy (G2) and was fourth by less than a length in the Travers (G1), both at Saratoga Race Course, then was second to Ron the Greek in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park prior to the Breeders’ Cup.
“His race in the Jockey Club was good; there was just one horse better, unfortunately, on the day,” Pletcher said. “The Breeders’ Cup kind of all went wrong at the start. He didn’t break well that day and got shuffled back. [Jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] got hurt earlier in the card and he was supposed to ride him. Rafael [Bejarano] rode him for the first time and wasn’t familiar with him. It kind of all went wrong, but he made a big middle move and it was just kind of hard to make up ground on the track that day.”
Following the Breeders’ Cup, Palace Malice got a brief vacation at Dogwood in Aiken, S.C. before joining Pletcher’s string at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, in mid-December.
He has had seven works at Palm Meadows since mid-January, most recently going five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Sunday, the fastest of 14 horses.
“His works have all been good. He’s always been a horse that trains very well, and doesn’t seem to have lost any enthusiasm,” Pletcher said. “I think the freshening should have done him well, and we hope to have a big year. It’s always fun to get one like him going again.”